My name is Cole and I’m a recovering power-dater. That may make me sound like a whore—and I’m hardly a prude—but I really did slip into this power-dating conundrum with good intentions. In the beginning, I approached the process with conviction and a judicious constitution. And I really tried my best to fight the slippery descent into bleak power-dating desperation—but given my current situation, I think it’s safe to say...I failed. Miserably. For the longest time, I was picky and only went out on dates with guys that checked certain boxes—ones I could see raising children with, ones I’d want to bring home to my family. But that produced fuck-all results, so I decided to diversify. Top? Sure, I’ll bottom for you. Jobless? Coffee’s on me. Just want to fuck? I’m sure you’ll fall in love with me mid-orgasm—come on over. It was exhilarating and exhausting—filling my nights with endless distraction and my days with more DMs than I could reasonably answer. Things went on like this for a bit until I found myself crying in line for the bathroom after a date had eviscerated what was left of my spirit—mere hours after offering to buy me a $4,000 dog. Yes, you read that right. For cocktails, I’d been offered a dog that cost twice my rent and for dessert, I had the soft, nougaty center of my core exposed for free to the patrons of a hip West Village watering hole. Luckily, I was able to sneak off before I let out any real tears. Though I wasn’t able to make it INTO the bathroom, at least Becky and her friend on line in front of me were distracted, rolling dollar bills, more concerned with where they might find a flat surface in the single stall bathroom than they were with my accosted emotions bubbling, violently, to the surface. I can’t even tell you exactly what he said—but I can tell you the way he made me feel. Worthless. Which…is not ok. Especially considering our conversation orbited my excessive understanding of his impending gay cruise… The boat sets sail early every year and is RIFE with anonymous sex and drug use. Is that all there is? No. Is that an ever-present part of it? Clearly. (It’s amazing to hear people defend it, particularly after someone died on one...) In an effort to distract from the next-level debauchery, there are all sorts of theme nights, which require outfits and copious coordination among groups. My date was walking me through his different costumes when our conversation jarringly took a left turn. We went from headdresses and thongs to: “Are you seeing anyone else?” “No,” I said, confused but pretty sure where this was going, “are you?” “No, and I just…” I cut him off. “Wait. I don’t want to have this conversation until you get back. You’re about to spend a week cruising on this bathhouse of a boat and I just…I’d rather you do what you need to do and then we can talk about this when you get back. If we agree to be exclusive now and you do something while you’re out there, there’s no way we can be together. Just know that we’re on the same page.” Cue a sociopathic meltdown which left me begging to be released from the oppressive table trapping me into the restaurant’s virgin-tight seating. West Village restaurants are stiflingly small. We should have had this conversation at that warehouse of a Mexican restaurant on 10th ave. At least then I could have more easily escaped before my eviscerated humanity threw up all over the place. I was taken down a rabbit hole of crazy so tightly woven, so expertly burrowed that even his pointed stares ripped at me. His words were chosen with exacting precision, paired with gestures that were meant to decimate. There wasn’t a breath wasted or a look unplanned. His economy of movement gave him control of the entire room and I sat trapped, unable to free myself from the grasp of his attack. My leg was caught in his snare and he was gleefully watching me squirm as he dissected my passions and speared my character. After I returned from the bathroom, he tried smoothing everything over—and again outside the restaurant, but by that point it was raining and I didn’t have anything left for him. It was like I’d finally stepped off Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and I had no interest in rehashing the particulars. I said goodbye, half-heartedly kissing his cheek and walked into the rain without an umbrella--knowing I’d never see him again. As the water ran down my bald head, baptizing my idiocy, I contemplated the choices that led me here. What was I gaining from dating like this? Empty promises and wrecked emotions? I was better than this. I was making completely unjustified allowances for these men—and why? As I neared the train station, wet and wallowing, something ripped me from my contemplative state and left me frozen, slack-jawed on the street. Heading directly towards me from across the sidewalk was a homeless man. His heavy, dirt encrusted dick swung back and forth, refusing to be confined by his zipper-fly. The sight stopped me dead in my tracks. Then it hit me. I was this homeless man’s dick—out, ready for anything. I had put myself on the clearance rack, available to anyone who could afford the nominal fee—and for what? If I thought I should be sold at a discount, then why would anyone pay a mark-up? I was the one who set the price, so why did I see myself in the center of a rumpled, unfolded sale section disaster area at The Gap?
A clap of thunder brought me back to reality and spurred me into the station—I’d lived in my retail analogy for a second too long as the floppy foreskin came dangerously close to making contact. Luckily, I made it through the turnstile, successfully out of harm’s way. Before New York, this was something I’d never thought to worry about—what a magical place!
Once safely on the train, I took out my phone and stared at all my dating apps with their hundreds of unanswered messages. What were they giving me? How was I being served by them? When was the last time I came out the other side of a date changed for the better? I’d grown addicted to the possibility they promised—the salvation from the loneliness they were meant to provide—but they always left me wanting more, usually standing with my literal dick in my hand.
In that moment, I made the choice to delete them all, taking back my happiness and officially accepting my power-dating addiction. I couldn’t handle the depressingly low ROI and constant disappointment anymore. I felt lighter as the folder that once contained my enablers disappeared. This was the right choice.
I held strong for the next six months—app-less and happy. But after a lot of introspection, I have decided I’m ready to find Mr. Right. I download OKCupid again and promised myself I’d approach dating differently this time.
My optimism lasted about 24 hours...